‘Eat more sushi’

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WEEKEND LIFE - Jan­ice Wells

I have an 85-year-old friend who re­cently chas­tised me for “go­ing on about be­ing old” in my col­umn. I see her point, ev­ery­thing be­ing rel­a­tive and all that, but some peo­ple have the good luck to age grace­fully whereas others are cat­a­pulted into it, and Grace goes right out the door. For the record, I don’t think I’m old; I just re­al­ize that Grace has not ex­actly been my best friend so I might as well poke fun at her. Any­way, here I go again. You know how if you look for some­thing on­line, you’ll never have to look for it again be­cause “they” will never for­get and ads for what­ever you were look­ing for will keep pop­ping up all over the place long af­ter you have de­cided you didn’t want a kitchen cart any­way. I re­ally don’t re­mem­ber (no pun in­tended) ever search­ing much for Alzheimer’s dis­ease or de­men­tia, although I prob­a­bly have for col­umn pur­poses. And “they” will never let me for­get. Haha.

I re­searched Alzheimer’s ex­ten­sively (many years ago when Google was some­thing you did with your eyes) for an ar­ti­cle com­mis­sioned by the Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity Alumni mag­a­zine. They knew I had lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. I don’t joke about Alzheimer’s or de­men­tia. How­ever my sis­ters and I have shared laughs as well as tears over the ef­fects of mind de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. You know my phi­los­o­phy about hu­mour, black or oth­er­wise; it can help you get through just about any­thing. I may not be 85, but I hope my sense of hu­mour will keep me writ­ing this col­umn when I am.

I joke about los­ing my mem­ory even though I re­ally don’t worry about it be­cause I never had a mem­ory to lose. This could prove em­bar­rass­ing when you’re younger, now it’s taken for granted, so for me that’s a good part of ag­ing. There are loads of stud­ies to help us keep our mem­o­ries as sharp as they used to be, or at least no blunter. They just keep pop­ping upon the com­puter, in­spir­ing my own per­sonal rid­dle of the day: How do you know when a re­searcher is not a boomer? When they take a study say­ing that, “con­sum­ing omega-3-rich fish, like salmon and tuna, can sig­nif­i­cantly de­crease your risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline” and turn it into “eat more sushi.”

I am ad­vised to add some in­ter­val train­ing to my rou­tine. I’m not too proud to ad­mit that I had to look up in­ter­val train­ing. In­ter­val train­ing is a se­ries of low to high-in­ten­sity ex­er­cise work­outs in­ter­spersed with rest or re­lief pe­ri­ods. That’s sim­ple enough for the sim­plest among us, quite doable, and goes hand in hand with the next one; be­ing over­weight can have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on brain vol­ume, po­ten­tially in­creas­ing our rate of cog­ni­tive de­cline in later years.

We know about keep­ing the brain ac­tive, but as we roll our eyes about kids play­ing video games, we should be aware that if we played them our­selves, “our cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties could be con­sid­er­ably im­proved.” And, I’ll bet you didn’t know that “adults of all ages who used vis­ual im­agery-based mnemonic de­vices ex­pe­ri­enced greater func­tion­al­ity in parts of their brain, po­ten­tially staving off mem­ory loss and other forms of cog­ni­tive de­cline.”

I have al­ready slowed my cog­ni­tive de­cline by look­ing up ‘vis­ual im­agery-based mnemonic de­vices’ which I will over-sim­plify by de­scrib­ing as ex­er­cises in re­mem­ber­ing things you see, in­clud­ing the writ­ten word. Ask me to­mor­row if I re­mem­ber that phrase.

I will close with “men and women aged 70 to 74, those who reg­u­larly drink an­tiox­i­dant-rich bev­er­ages, in­clud­ing wine, were men­tally fit­ter than those who ab­stained” and “in­di­vid­u­als in their 70s and 80s who cleaned their own house low­ered their risk of death by as much as 30 per cent.”

I take all stud­ies with a grain of salt (salt shrinks your brain, by the way) and usu­ally end up in the mid­dle. I am not quite 70, but I will take one of these stud­ies very se­ri­ously.

If you can’t fig­ure out which one, you may be be­yond help.

I don’t joke about Alzheimer’s or de­men­tia. How­ever my sis­ters and I have shared laughs as well as tears over the ef­fects of mind de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. You know my phi­los­o­phy about hu­mour, black or oth­er­wise; it can help you get through just about any­thing.

ALETIA/123RF

How do you know when a re­searcher is not a boomer? When they take a study say­ing that, “con­sum­ing omega-3-rich fish, like salmon and tuna, can sig­nif­i­cantly de­crease your risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline” and turn it into “eat more sushi.”

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